Amy’s Banana & Joseph’s Harp – The Magic of Art

Amy's Banana (and grapes & a bit of apple too)










I’m one of those art historians who talks about art but cannot really create anything.  That’s why art–almost any kind of art—is magic to me.   So it was with something akin to reverence that I watched my NMC colleague Amy Parker draw the banana above using nothing but a stylus and the available tools in Art Set on her iPad at a meeting this past January.  There are lots of  apps like Art Set available, and the recent mega-success of OMGPOP’s Draw Something has me thinking about Magic (with a capital M).

I like Draw Something. In fact I’m in favor of just about anything that gets people thinking about art.  And, taking my cue from the artist Christo, I believe if a tool, or technique, or work of art inspires someone to think or say “that’s not art” at least that person has had to make some decision kind of decision about what they believe art is in order to determine what art is not.

This week I’ve been introducing the students in my Quattrocento class to the works of the 15th century Florentine painter Fra Angelico.   And on Tuesday I was trying to explain the difference between negative mysticism and positive mysticism as illustrated in his paintings.  Mind you tonight I am treading nervously in shallows of deep thought.  Negative mysticism (sorry real philosophers) is taking the attitude that there is just a lot of stuff out there in the world and beyond that our tiny little human minds cannot comprehend so we shouldn’t even try.  Positive mysticism, on the other hand, says if you look around and appreciate the beautiful, good, wonderful,  creative things and people in the world, maybe, just maybe just maybe you’ll come a little closer to comprehending the incomprehensible.

  • Amy seemed to effortlessly create her banana as I watched in amazement.
  • One of my students is a major in Classical Harp Performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music.   At his junior recital Joseph effortlessly performed a composition of his own.  Have a listen to Rebman Eros – Pithos Anesidoras.
  • Michael Moschen is the only juggler, as far as I know, to have been awarded one of the “Genius Grants” from the MacArthur Foundation.  Magic and again seemingly effortless.

What all three of these individuals have in common, to my mind, is work, and skill, and that something indefinable that I envy and admire.  Amy’s banana, Joseph’s music, and Michael Moschen’s juggling remind me of the magic in art and why I got into this business in the first place.

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